Topanga’s Covid Coalition Nominated for Nonprofit of the Year for Assembly District 50

Annemarie DonkinBy Annemarie Donkin      June 25, 2021

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Topanga’s Covid Coalition Nominated for Nonprofit of the Year for Assembly District 50
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” —Margaret Mead The Topanga Covid Coalition and Hollywood Harvest were each nominated for 2021 Nonprofits of the Year for AD 50 by Assemblymember Richard Bloom. The nominations were announced on Wednesday, June 23, which also was designated as California Nonprofits Day in recognition of the importance of nonprofit organizations to the economy and well-being of the State of California. Never doubt that Topangans can pull together to make their community a better place. Each year, the California Association of Nonprofits asks Legislative members to select a nonprofit organization from their district to recognize for their outstanding work. Even though there were many organizations to choose from, Assemblymember Richard Bloom selected Hollywood Harvest and the Topanga Covid Coalition as 2021Nonprofits of the Year for Bloom’s Assembly District 50, “for their work this past year in responding to the immediate unmet needs of the community.” “Almost overnight, starting with nothing more than a compassion to help others, individual community members came together, bringing with them their expertise, resources, personal connections, and a commitment to serve others, to form coalitions to deliver food, critical information, and necessary resources to keep our most vulnerable neighbors safe, healthy, and informed,” Bloom’s office issued in a statement. “With that said, our efforts and successes in weathering this pandemic are completely due to the countless volunteer hours, funding, and the generosity of heart by hundreds of Topangans,” Coalition co-founder Cecilie Stuart wrote in an email to its members after learning of the nominations. “Your leadership was key as well, and therefore, Tim [Pershing] thought to nominate our coalition for recognition by Assemblymember Bloom (Blooms Assembly District (AD) 50). Our recognition is as a group, a collective of non-profits, businesses, and amazingly good local volunteers.” Topanga Covid Coalition Stuart and Tam Taylor, of the Topanga SAGES, founded the Coalition in February, 2020 following the first quarantine. Weekly online meetings began in March to organize the Coalition, which included obtaining a $55,000 Block Grant for Topanga from L.A. County for food distribution. Coalition members also provided space for several Red Cross Blood Drives at the Topanga Community Center. Alisa Land Hill of Topanga Elementary Charter School / Topanga Town Council coordinated a mental health outreach program, While Susan Clark of Topanga Animal Rescue, and residents Bill and Jane Terjung coordinated the “In the Company of Angels-Homeless” outreach. Dorothy Reik, President of the Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains, and Carrie Carrier, President of the Topanga Town Council, provided essential support and advice. The Coalition set up regular meal deliveries to seniors, the homeless, and vulnerable families, spearheaded by Kristina Rocco Levy, Kristine Sloan, Nonie Shore, Kelly Rockwell, and Susan Clark with regular deliveries three times a week provided by restaurants and supported by private donations totaling 4,000 meals. Coalition volunteers distributed 1,100 food boxes at Pine Tree Circle provided by the L.A. Regional Food Bank and 2,200 meals were delivered by volunteers from the Topanga Community Center to locals and homeless with funding from Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. Two hundred meals were delivered to the homeless from March 23, 2020 to May 30, 2021 with 17,900 food box distributions for daily meal delivery to seniors, the homeless, and the general population in coordination with the Area Agency on Aging. Additionally, the Coalition arranged for 500 special meals for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter, with donated flowers and cards, some created by local schoolchildren, for the occasion. During the lockdown, volunteers sewed 150 masks along with 3,500 pre-cut replaceable filters that were handmade and distributed to seniors, the homeless, the disabled, and grocery delivery volunteers. Project volunteers were Karen Dannenbaum, Stacy Sledge, Kristine Sloan, and Annie Gabbert. The Topanga Chamber of Commerce coordinated to support local businesses affected by the lockdown with volunteers Joseph Rosendo, Community Liaison, Topanga’s Chamber of Commerce; Matt Doolin of Topanga Art Tile; Nate Daneshgar of Pine Tree Circle; Amir Rofougaran of Café 27 and 1909; Water Lily Café; Tanya Starcevich and Roger Pugliese of the Topanga Association for a Scenic Community. Government officials who assisted the Coalition included Tessa Charnofsky from Supervisor Sheila Kuehl’s office; Janet Turner from U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu’s office; Nick Gaines from State Sen. Henry Stern’s office; and Tim Pershing from Assemblymember Bloom’s office. “We are honored to have been a part of the coalition of Topangans who worked so hard to make the pandemic time bearable for our fellow Topangans and beyond,” wrote Rosendo. “We wholeheartedly supported and participated in as many of the Coalition’s efforts as possible while concentrating our energies on helping Topanga businesses survive the pandemic. The community effort was a grand illustration of the pandemic rallying cry, ‘we’re all in this together.’”
Annemarie Donkin
      June 25, 2021

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